L'Enfant (The Child) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

L'Enfant, or the Child, directed by the Dardenne Brothers

L'Enfant (The Child), A French film directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, is Cannes Film Festival 2005's Palm D'or Winner.

The film is entirely devoid of music (which is most probably the first I've ever witnessed in a feature film, shows how unexposed I am), and is like a documentary because of the filmmakers' handheld camera-style and use of natural lighting. Thus it is in a way rather claustrophobic, as the camera tend to stick so closely to the characters that you do not get to really have a clear look of their surroundings. It is not a beautiful film to look at it, it draws attention not to the scenery, but solely the main character, as it became increasingly apparent that the child of the title is not the baby (who never made a single sound, being constantly asleep or offscreen), but himself.

The film focuses on a very young couple, Sonia and Bruno (both either in their late teens, or early twenties), who just had a baby. Bruno is a petty thief. Instead of finding a proper job ("jobs are for losers"), it was a path Bruno chose for himself, where responsibilities can be evaded with ease. In fact, he ended up selling the baby to an underground adoption ring without telling his girlfriend, leaving the baby in an abandoned apartment and returning shortly after to collect wads of cash. He ended up being surprised that Sonia would be so devastated by the news, and his journey to reclaim the baby would ultimately become a journey towards some kind of redemption.

The final scene is especially haunting.